Preaching that Will Amount to Nothing (weekend repost)

Proclaiming the Word must always be accompanied with love. I can’t get around what 1 Corinthians 13:1-2 says. Angry, venomous, mean-spirited, vile preachers are not speaking as God would have them. You can mock the so-called “tone-police,” but the Word is clear—speak with the tongues of angels and men, speak with great prophetic revelation, speak with incredible faith, and even sacrifice to the point of destitution and even martyrdom—but if you don’t have love you are worse than ineffective—you are painful to your hearers and destructive to the church.

Read the rest of the post here: Preaching that Will Amount to Nothing

Spirit Empowered Church Planting

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Rom 1:16 ESV

It would seem that some people who are all for church planting are unaware of Romans 1:16, so I have reproduced it here for the benefit of those who think that a church is best planted by human invention.

What do I mean by ‘human invention?’ How about slick marketing programs that blanket the city? Or freebies, raffles, and give-aways that are meant to be a spiritual bait-and-switch? There are surveys meant to find out what unbelieving pagans want in a church so that a church can be tailored for them, and there are those ‘church planters’ who blanket Christian radio, Christian bookstores and encourage their core team to invite their friends over to their cool, new church that is so much better than the one they’re in now. There are other so-called church planting and church growth gimmicks I could mention, but I think that you probably know of one or two places like this.

Then there is Holy Spirit power that converts a soul from being a prisoner of darkness into a light-reflecting child of the Kingdom. Those churches that seek to grow from preaching a gospel that leads to Spirit-regeneration of the souls of men are true church plants. And those who plant churches by the power of the gospel do so in the methodology that gives all glory to God and cannot be conjured up by Madison Avenue methods.

To all my brothers out there who are holding forth the truth in faithfulness, keep it up. For those growing weary of doing good, email me and I’ll join you in prayer so that you won’t be tempted to give in to powerless quick fixes that yield a crowd, but not gospel growth.

Preaching that Will Amount to Nothing

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. ” (1 Cor. 13:1-6)

Proclaiming the Word must always be accompanied with love. I can’t get around what 1 Corinthians 13:1-2 says. Angry, venomous, mean-spirited, vile preachers are not speaking as God would have them. You can mock the so-called “tone-police,” but the Word is clear—speak with the tongues of angels and men, speak with great prophetic revelation, speak with incredible faith, and even sacrifice to the point of destitution and even martyrdom—but if you don’t have love you are worse than ineffective—you are painful to your hearers and destructive to the church.

And when I say that the Word must be accompanied with love, I don’t define love as “niceness” or “without controversy” because that isn’t the way God defines love. Love is clearly spoken of in this passage in both positive and negative attributes. Love is patient and kind. Impatient pastors are noisy gongs. Unkind pastors are clanging cymbals. Their ministries will amount to nothing in the long run because they do not minister the Word as the Chief Shepherd does.

Proclaiming the Word of God with love must also leave out certain things, including envy, boasting, arrogance, rudeness, self-seeking, or anger of different kinds (irritability, resentment, rejoicing in wrongdoing).

There are some men who step into the pulpit on Sundays whose sermons are peppered throughout with a mixture of truth and these vile sins that demonstrate a lack of love. These things should not be (James 3:9-12). But there is more to this.

Our pulpit speech and our conduct should be an overflow of our daily lives, which means that we must be men of true, biblical love—both in and out of the pulpit. We cannot be unloving (as defined by Scripture) in our daily lives with those around us, and then step into a pulpit on Sunday and proclaim the truth as if our preaching were disconnected from our daily living. To live like that is plain hypocrisy.

Our daily speech and actions must be marked by biblical love, so that we will not become noisy gongs and clanging cymbals in the pulpit, with our ministry amounting to nothing. Instead, may we work at growing in biblical love so that our speech is well-seasoned with grace and our hearts truly care for those in our charge.

The Fool’s Dilemma (weekend repost)

Even though the fool says in is heart that there is no God, his claim is contrary not only to the facts, but his raging against the God that he says does not exist shows that he does not believe his own words.

Read the rest of the post here: The Fool’s Dilemma

The Fool’s Dilemma

“The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good. God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.” (Psalm 53:1–3, ESV)

These words, quoted by the Apostle Paul in the third chapter of his letter to the Romans, are a stark reminder that the spirituality of this age that we live in is not a genuine seeking for the One true God, but rather is a seeking after another idol that can alleviate the void that is felt outside of God.

Even though the fool says in is heart that there is no God, his claim is contrary not only to the facts, but his raging against the God that he says does not exist shows that he does not believe his own words.

From God’s perspective, as he looks not only down on humanity, but looks into the darkened hearts of men, he does not see anyone who truly desires a relationship with him. Truth be told, humankind would be completely satisfied in pushing their Creator out of the picture totally—filling the void of their soul with anything else that they can find or create. In our futility and desperation, we have grown in our corruption. We even claim to be morally good, while God’s own estimation is much different.

Without the saving grace of Jesus Christ, we are living in a mass delusion. We are living as if there is no God, as if there was no moral standard except for the one that we have made, and that we are good according to our arbitrary standards. No wonder God calls us fools.

Jesus Christ is our only hope. He is the answer to our greatest need. He is our Creator, our Savior and Justifier. He takes out the hardened heart in men that is like stone, and he gives us a new heart that is tender toward him. He puts his Spirit in us so that we can grieve once again over our foolishness, and rejoice over the forgiveness that we have received. He gives us eyes to see his beauty and the beauty around us and ears to hear his voice as he calls and leads us.

Do you know this Jesus? He is God. He is Savior and Lord. He is calling to sinners and fools to depart from your sin and folly and call out to him for mercy. He will surely give it.